When I looked at the #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge theme this morning my heart sank a little. Summer in the City…and hadn’t I just blown some of my best moves in the Mint Julep poem yesterday? (https://sojourningsmith.blog/2019/08/06/heatwave/). You may have missed it given the WordPress wobbles yesterday. (WordPress seems to have worked out its glitches this morning after three fraught mornings trying to get the Poetry Daily early edition out.) But then the synapses began to flash. Memory is always the beginning of a poem. And I was back in the back seat of our family car in the the summer of ’68 (probably). My sister was driving, Mom was in the front passenger seat. We had spent a day culture vulturing in NYC. It was full dark and as we drove past Newark the skyline was completely alight. A riot was happening somewhere off to the right of the highway.
In my head, summer is riot season. High temperatures just ratchet up all the ugly feelings, the multiple injustices overflow in cities whether it is in Newark or Philly or Hyde Park in Leeds.
It's a radical act to do nothing.
Maybe it's too hot to bother setting
the city on fire, sending some missiles
of empties full of petrol through the air.
Summertime and living is a riot
waiting to happen and inhibitions
falling with each article of clothing.
The neighbours play their music way too loud.
Some idiot just lit a barbecue
in a bin lid. The air is full of smoke
and smells of lighter fluid. Voices, shouting,
amplified by beer and talking over
everyone else, the awful playlist.
It's a radical act to do nothing,
sitting inside, quietly perspiring,
not playing with matches or menacing.
Listening to the fan's white noise over
the police chopper, beaming its spot light ball,
bouncing it off the bedroom window's wall.
Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.